The Minister of Labour yesterday warned factory owners around the country that they would face legal action if large groups of workers faint during working hours within their enterprises.
The warning followed the fainting of nearly 200 workers in Takeo province on Wednesday.
Ith Samheng said yesterday he would change work safety laws to make sure this does not keep happening.
“This is a problem we need to solve now. I want to ask all factories to take action to prevent this issue from happening again,” he said. “Some buyers I met wondered why many Cambodian workers faint in factories, while it rarely happens in other countries.”
Mr Samheng said that the Occupational Health and Safety Department of the Labour Ministry has to create a new law to battle fainting.
The minister said factories should create technical working groups to check workplaces prior to the workers’ shift to ensure the environment is safe.
“Factories have to comply: if the information spreads about their workers fainting, it is something potential buyers will consider. It also affects production,” he said.
Ath Thorn, president of the Cambodian Labour Confederation, said that companies have to follow government instructions and strengthen safety and healthcare for workers.
“The state, especially inspection officials, paid little attention to this problem and did not punish factory owners,” Mr Thorn said. “It’s not only the Ministry of Labour: the Ministry of Environment or any relevant ministries were careless by letting companies use hazardous chemical liquids.”
Mr Thorn praised the measure, and said that if it were truly implemented as instructed by the minister it would improve working conditions and safety significantly.
Kaing Monika, Garment Manufacturers Association of Cambodia deputy secretary general, said the association has long been an active member of the ministry Committee for the Study and Prevention of Fainting Incidents.
We together with a committee have conducted a lot of Occupational Health and safety training for the factory workers.
“We have conducted a lot of occupational health and safety training for factory workers,” he said. “For all fainting cases, we visited the factory to determine the causes of the incident, and instruct the factory to take action should there be shortcomings on its side.”